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Sun Dec 16, 2018, 06:54 PM

What about orphan trains in the history of US treatment of unwanted immigrant children??

IIRC church orphanages in NYC tan out of room, so homeless, mostly immigrant, children were put on trains and sent West.

At each stop, people could take a child or so through some process. Some wanted children as part of their family. Others wanted farm or domestic laborers, often little more than slaves.

IIRC the fate of the individual children greatly depended on the character of the people working on the train and those working with the potential 'adopters.'

I remember the shock I felt when I learned that orphan trains actually existed and weren't a Western novel's plot device.

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Reply What about orphan trains in the history of US treatment of unwanted immigrant children?? (Original post)
bobbieinok Dec 2018 OP
trixie2 Dec 2018 #1
hlthe2b Dec 2018 #2
murielm99 Dec 2018 #3

Response to bobbieinok (Original post)

Sun Dec 16, 2018, 06:58 PM

1. Some of them were wed at a very young age

right off the train.

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Response to bobbieinok (Original post)

Sun Dec 16, 2018, 06:59 PM

2. It wasn't just immigrants... My adoptive grandmother claimed she got my Mother that way--

a claim my Mother had never heard prior to a few years before her death and didn't seem to believe. Still it had me doing some research.... While I don't have any reason to believe my adoptive grandmother's story (she had plenty of "issues" --to put it mildly) it would not have been impossible.

Yes, a lot of immigrant kids but it was all kinds of orphans from the Northeast.

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Response to bobbieinok (Original post)

Sun Dec 16, 2018, 07:10 PM

3. Some of them were street kids and children

who had no fathers. They were born out of wedlock.

We had an orphanage in my community that took in quite a few orphan train children. It was run by the Methodist Church. The last of the children were a generation older than me, and they have all died now. I knew the man who was the historian for the local church. He says the orphanage was a harsh place.

Sometimes, even the people who adopted the children and treated them well kept quiet about having adopted family members. It was scandalous to be considered a bastard.

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